SAM DARNOLD

USC
QB

Prospect Info

College
USC
Hometown
Class
Capistrano Beach, CA
Junior
Height
Weight
Arms
6' 3"
221 lbs
31”
Hands
9 3/8”

Prospect Grade

7.00
Pro Bowl-caliber player
How We Grade

2018 Draft Results

Drafted by
New York Jets
Jets
Round 1 ‧ Pick 3
40 Yard Dash
4.85
Seconds
 
Bench Press
--
Reps
 
Vertical Jump
26.5
INCHES
 
Broad Jump
105.0
INCHES
 
3 Cone Drill
6.96
Seconds
 
20 Yd Shuttle
4.4
Seconds
 
60 Yd Shuttle
--
Seconds
 
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Playlist

Right now, Darnold is the second-most famous member of his family. His grandfather, Dick Hammer, was a USC basketball player, an Olympic volleyball player, and actor -- in fact, he was one of the Mr. Marlboro Men. Sam's father, Mike, also played football at Redlands College and several other relatives were collegiate athletes. Soon enough, however, Darnold will become the top dog in the family. The High School All-American and Orange County Offensive Player of the Year (67.8 completion percentage, 2,996 yards, 39 touchdowns, eight interceptions) also excelled at basketball and baseball, even though he missed time with a broken foot (suffered during football) and a broken finger. Darnold redshirted in 2015, sitting behind Cody Kessler and Max Browne. Browne ended up transferring to Pitt after 2016, as he saw the mature, pro-sized, strong-armed, and accurate Darnold take his job. He played in all 13 games, starting the final nine, completing 67.2 percent of 366 passes for 3,086 yards, 31 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. Darnold also has the athleticism to make plays with his feet (62 rush attempts, 250 yards, two rushing touchdowns). He was voted first-team All-Pac-12 by league coaches in 2017, completing 63.1 percent of his passes (303-of-480) for 4,143 yards and 26 touchdowns on the for the conference champs. His 13 interceptions and 11 fumbles during his sophomore season have scouts wondering about his ball security skills, however.
By Lance Zierlein
NFL Analyst
Draft Projection
Top 3 overall selection
NFL Comparison
Andrew Luck
Overview
At the end of the day, Darnold has NFL size, arm strength, accuracy, pocket mobility, poise and field reading capability. His windup is an eyesore for sure, but he has the velocity to mitigate the additional release time. While Darnold has the mental toughness and talent to start tomorrow, early sideline seasoning could help him better process coverages in an attempt to eliminate future interceptions. Darnold has the tools to thrive in any system and doesn't have to have perfect protection to succeed. His floor is solid starter, but he has the ceiling to be one of the top tier quarterbacks in the game as he gains more experience.
Strengths
  • Has desired NFL size
  • Trusts his pocket and keeps eyes down the field
  • Looks off safeties
  • Takes what defense is offering and won't overcomplicate it
  • Scans full field and eyes don't get bogged down on a single target
  • Gets through progressions like a pro
  • Throws with desired anticipation and timing
  • Isolates deep ball opportunities pre-snap
  • There isn't a throw he fears
  • Impressive feel for spatial relationship between target and defender
  • Trusts his arm and placement
  • Naturally accurate with tight spirals
  • Has arm talent to uncork it quickly
  • Rifles it to hitches and swing passes giving them time to operate
  • Has velocity, timing and accuracy to own the deep out
  • Tough in and out of the pocket
  • Feels edge pressure and climbs away from sharks circling the rush arc
  • Shakes off sack attempts and throws with accuracy and pace when on the move
  • Completion percentage unaffected by blitz
  • Sudden processor when faced with free-running blitzers
  • Can pump and re-calibrate
  • Tough runner who can move the sticks with his legs
  • Doesn't get shaken by in-game mistakes
  • Shows quality leadership and poise.
Weaknesses
  • Elongated release is impossible to miss
  • Ball drops to his waist with forearm pointed towards the ground, pre-delivery
  • Windup gives defenders early clue to break on the throw
  • Muscle memory may not allow for release correction
  • Turnover total is alarming
  • Finished 2017 with 13 interceptions and nine lost fumbles
  • Has 20 interceptions over last 20 games
  • Decision-making and field vision were inconsistent this year
  • Has a tendency to rush throws once internal clock winds down
  • Too much mustard on some short throws
  • Muscles too many throws rather than driving with lower half
  • Too willing to throw from uneven platform
  • Intermediate accuracy fell from 2016
  • Can throw with better placement and lead his targets
  • Deep ball touch needs work
  • Took sacks when incompletions were available
  • Rarely slides in the open field which has to change
Sources Tell Us

"I think he caught some backlash this year because of the pre-season hype and the interceptions. He's still the most complete quarterback in this draft with the best makeup to be a good pro." -- AFC Executive

News

Path to the Draft

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Winners and losers from Rounds 2, 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft

GRADE
9.00-10
Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99
Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99
Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49
Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99
Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49
Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99
Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49
NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19
Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00
50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99
Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74
Chance to be in an NFL training camp
NO GRADE
Likely needs time in developmental league